Scot Silverstein on the Health IT Stimulus

Scot Silverstein had his letter on the Health IT stimulus published on the Wall Street Journal website. This letter is in response to the recent WSJ article on the health IT stimulus package.

Dear Wall Street Journal:

You observe that the true political goal is socialized medicine facilitated by health care information technology. You note that the public is being deceived, as the rules behind this takeover were stealthily inserted in the stimulus bill.

I have a different view on who is deceiving whom. In fact, it is the government that has been deceived by the HIT industry and its pundits. Stated directly, the administration is deluded about the true difficulty of making large-scale health IT work. The beneficiaries will largely be the IT industry and IT management consultants.

For £12.7 billion the U.K., which already has socialized medicine, still does not have a working national HIT system, but instead has a major IT quagmire, some of it caused by U.S. HIT vendors.

HIT (with a few exceptions) is largely a disaster. I’m far more concerned about a mega-expensive IT misadventure than an IT-empowered takeover of medicine.

The stimulus bill, to its credit, recognizes the need for research on improving HIT. However this is a tool to facilitate clinical care, not a cybernetic miracle to revolutionize medicine. The government has bought the IT magic bullet exuberance hook, line and sinker.

I can only hope patients get something worthwhile for the $20 billion.

Scot Silverstein, M.D.
Biomedical Informatics
Drexel University Institute for Healthcare Informatics

For more on Scot, check out his website and his blog.

One Comment

  1. Scot has been around for a while and always makes a useful observation.
    I found this blog by searching the topic though Google Blog Search and this item sparked interest. Since this is my first comment, I’d better declare a bit of history. My last comment to an Health IT blog resulted in me being kicked off. I dared to suggest that a person who was appointed to a top government medical job had a civic duty to declare his financial attachments to the “industry”. In this case, it is Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, a professor of cancer medicine.
    Cancer specialists want to dig deep into any medical databases, often for altruistic reasons. But the pharmaceutical industry isn’t far behind them, and may even be way ahead. So, IMO it is imperative that the CMO should declare his (and his domestic partner’s) fiducial links.
    Can I recommend a good book? It’s ‘The Patient’ by Mohamed Khadra. He is urologist and in this work traces the journey of a man with bladder cancer through the system.


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